The House of Dies Drear The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

Here’s one of those books I never read as a kid – although I think I would have liked it, especially all the deliciously spooky bits with secret tunnels and the huge old house. I checked it out of the library a few months ago when I was weeding the mystery section, and since I just got around to reading it, now I can conveniently count it towards the POC Reading Challenge I signed up for.

Although the story only takes place over a few days, it feels like it covers a larger period of time, probably because of the backstory on the house and Pluto. The first part of the story is suspenseful and spooky, as Thomas’ family moves to into the enormous, historic house that used to be part of the Underground Railroad. Strange things start happening, Thomas’ twin brothers have an aversion to the house, and atmosphere builds.

The story is a bit dated in some areas, but it still works. What doesn’t work is that cover – why on earth can’t they come out with something better that wouldn’t languish on my library shelves? I won’t spoil how the story turns out, but it never gets really scary, and I’m still thinking over the way Hamilton chose to end things. I’d recommend this to kids who like mysteries that aren’t historical fiction but involve bits of history.

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